Social media awareness campaign to launch for Lifeline Law

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Thousands of college students in Indiana will officially hit the books on Monday, but activities outside of the classroom — mainly partying — has one lawmaker sending out an urgent reminder about the Lifeline Law.

It gives immunity to underage drinkers who call 911 if a friend is experiencing an alcohol related emergency.

Earlier this year, the law was expanded to include any type of medical emergency. Students who do know about it appreciate having that piece of mind.

Now the man who authored the bill two years ago has a better way to connect with students and spread the word.

Finding yourself in college starts with simply finding your way around. It’s welcome weekend at Bulter University and Student Body President Chad Pingel is one of many upperclassmen leading the freshman on tours.

“They all moved in yesterday and so what we’re doing is leading them through their transition to college life,” he said. “These two days can be a little bit overwhelming.”

Figuring out how to navigate campus is just one of several reasons why.

“Meeting so many new people, can barely remember all of them,” said freshman Spencer Keating.

But if there’s one thing he does remember between all the conversations and advice, State Senator Jim Merritt hopes it’s the Lifeline Law.

“That young man or woman who is in need of medical attention, their life will be saved the quicker you make that phone call,” he said.

It’s that mindset he’s been preaching across college campuses and high schools for years.

“We believe that we’ve spoken to over 20,000 people now,” he said.

But that message hasn’t reached everyone, at least not when 24-Hour News 8 asked three freshmen if they’d heard of the Lifeline Law.

In time, the freshman class at Butler will know about it. It was explained Sunday night during a convocation about student life led by university leaders and the BU Police Department. It’s the same way Pingel learned about it two years ago.

“One of the things we just try to do is be repetitive about it,” he said. “I mean there’s a lot of things that they are told during this Welcome Week time and so hopefully that’s one of them that sticks.”

But Senator Merritt wants there to be constant reminders, specifically at students’ fingertips.

“You can have public service announcements for radio and for television, those are great informative pieces. We need to go where that student is, and that student is working on social media all the time,” he said.

Freshman Ashley Lane agreed saying, “We are all the time, addicted to the phone.”

“Most students are on some sort of social media,” said Keating. “If you can reach them that way that’s probably the best to get to the masses of the students.”

How people learn the law isn’t the issue for freshman Madison Bieganski, it’s whether or not people have the courage to use it.

“If someone’s really sick and you’re too selfish about it to help them out and think you’re going to get in trouble, I mean people should have the moral to help the person regardless if they’re going to get in trouble or not.”

Senator Merritt said there’s been at least seven occasions where the Lifeline Law has saved a life.

He wouldn’t give full details on the social media campaign but did say it would be something that reaches students often.

He feels a high repetition is the best way to keep the law in the back of their minds. The campaign will be officially announced at a news conference Monday morning.

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